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Waikato district moves to restricted fire season

A restricted fire season will be introduced for rural areas of the Waikato district from 20 January, 2017.

Restrictions already exist within urban areas and areas managed by the Department of Conservation.

A restricted fire season requires permits to be obtained from Waikato District Council for all fires in the open air with the exception of barbecues, hangis, brazier type fires and fires within a properly constructed incinerator fitted with a lid or mesh spark arrestor to stop embers escaping. Applications for permits can be made by contacting any of the Waikato District Council offices or via Council’s website.

Principal Rural Fire Officer Andy Baker says that the introduction of the restricted fire season is the result of the climatic conditions, with little rain and high temperatures contributing to a rapid increase in fire weather danger levels.

Of particular concern currently are strong winds which can make fire behaviour extremely unpredictable.

He says that an open fire season has been in place for some months and hopes that those needing to burn large piles have done so in that period which removes the need to burn now when fire danger is higher.

“The main concern is the risk of fires spreading which is heightened by the dry condition of fuels and strong wind. Of particular concern are the areas of peat soils where fires can become deep seated and difficult to extinguish and our coastal areas such as Raglan, Te Akau, Port Waikato and the Waiuku Forest.”  

He adds that people must light fires in a responsible manner, ensuring they are safe, will not spread or cause any smoke nuisance to neighbours or nearby road users.

Suppression and other costs may be borne by the person responsible for lighting a fire or the landowner, adding further incentives for people to take the lighting of fires seriously.

If people see a fire they believe is either out of control or in a place where there is risk of it spreading they should call 111 immediately with as much information as to the location as is possible.